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explorations

the explorations Every evening our guides meet with you in the bar/living room area of the hotel. There, they will explain all of the planned explorations available for the next day and help you choose the best exploration for you according to your interests and abilities. The maximum group size is 8 travelers, along with a bilingual explora guide. Our treks, horseback rides, cycling explorations, high-mountain climbs and stargazing sessions will help you to discover Atacama’s ancestral culture and unique wildlife, and also get to know in-depth the varied natural landscapes that make up this vast territory. The following menu includes descriptions of our main explorations; the itineraries can experience modifications at any time and without prior notice. The explorations are grouped by elevation and activity in order to safely acclimatize the body to the altitude accordingly. Please make sure to speak to an explora guide daily to know the exact explorations being offered. 

trekking Elevations: 2,400 – 3,000 m (7,800 – 9,900 ft) These explorations can be taken from the first day.

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Cornisas Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours, walking 1.5 to 2 hours. Distance by foot: 3.5 km (2.2 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (20 min.) towards the Llano de la Paciencia. Hike along the cornices of the Cordillera de la Sal, enjoying panoramic views of the San Pedro oasis, the Salar de Atacama, and the Andes. Exploration ends at the dunes of Valle de la Muerte. Return to hotel by van (15 min.). Level: Easy.

explora atacama | desert alive

Kari Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours, walking 2 to 2.5 hours. Distance by foot: 5.5 km (3.4 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache along the road towards Calama (15 min.). Trekking through Kari Ravine, a small canyon formed by water erosion and bordered by enormous salt walls. Return to hotel by van (15 min.). Level: Easy, except for two, 10 foot-high (3 meter) vertical descents. Guatín – Punta Del Inca Duration: 3 to 3.5 hours, walking 2 to 2.5 hours. Distance by foot: 3.6 km (2.2 miles). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (35 min.) taking the road toward the Gautín settlement and the confluence of the Purtitama and Purifica rivers. Most of the hike is through a garden of Cardon and Opunsias. The hike follows the river through a canyon, crisscrossing it several times and eventually climbing down two dry waterfalls (approximately a 10 foot/ 3 meter drop). Finally walking out of the canyon we enjoy splendid panoramic views of Atacama. Return to hotel by van (35 min.). Level: Easy to Moderate (two 10 foot-high (3 meter) vertical descents). Kamur Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours, walking 2 to 2.5 hours. Distance by foot: 6.6 km (4.1 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (30 min.) towards the Moon Valley. Trekking through the Moon Valley allows travelers to appreciate the variations of sunlight and the spectacular landscapes of the Cordillera de la Sal. Return to hotel by van (30 min.). Level: Easy. Chuschul Duration: 3 to 4 hours, walking 2 to 2.5 hours. Distance by foot: 5.4 km (3.4 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (45 min.) on the road to Calama, taking a detour on a dusty road towards the Salado River. After arriving at the riverside, the walk follows the river valley of Quetin. Along the way there are petroglyphs and the vegetation is mostly Brea shrubbery. During the walk we cross the river (the water level is not above the knees). The relatively flat walk ends in the Cuchabrache sector, where the van is waiting to return to the hotel through the Catarpe Valley (35 min.). Level: Easy

Cuchabrache Duration: 3.5 to 4 hours, walking 2.5 hours. Distance by foot: 5.6 km (3.5 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (25 min.) towards the source of the San Pedro River. We walk uphill to the summit plateau, where there are spectacular views of the green valley of Catarpe/ Cuchabrache contrasted by a view of the dry salt range and volcanoes in the distance. Great opportunity to experience panoramic vistas and enjoy the silence of this less traveled hike. Return to hotel by van (35 min.). Level: Easy.

Elevations: 3,000 – 4,000 m (9,800 – 13,200 ft) These explorations can be taken from the second day.

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Guatín - Puritama Duration: 4 to 4.5 hours, walking 2.5 to 3 hours. Distance by foot: 5 km (3.1 miles). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (35 min.) to Guatín. The trek begins climbing up and down, gaining a total of 270 m (880 ft) along the way to Puritama located at 3,500 m (11,500 ft) above sea level. We begin walking eastward above a ravine for approximately 45 minutes, surrounded by ancient cacti. The trek descends down the ravine through pre-puna vegetation until reaching the bottom, where we find some ancient settlements and a river. The terrain is rocky at times. Arrive at the Puritama Thermal Baths for a chance to enjoy the warm pools and a light snack (bathing suit required; towels provided). Return to hotel by van (1 hr). Level: Moderate. *We recommend the trek for those who wish to acclimate for hiking at the next level of 4,000 m (13,200 ft) and above.


explora atacama | desert alive

explorations

Elevations: 3,000 – 4,000 m (9,800 – 13,200 ft) These explorations can be taken from the second day. f u l l d ay

Rainbow Valley Duration: 6.5 to 7 hours, walking 3 to 3.5 hours. Distance by foot: 6 km (4 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (1 hr) on the road to Calama, taking a detour toward the Grande River in the direction of Matancilla. Begin ascent, passing by petroglyphs. The magnificent view along the way of the Rainbow Valley and the Matancilla Mountain, explains the name Rainbow Valley, as we see a striking array of colors. Descend to reach picnic spot. Return to hotel by van (1 hr). Level: Moderate. Machuca - Río Grande Duration: 6 to 8 hours, walking 4.5 to 5.5 hours. Distance by foot: 15 km (9.3 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (1 hr) towards the picturesque village of Machuca (3,930 m/ 13,100 ft). Following a riverbed, we trek downhill approximately 800 m (2,625 ft). Picnic lunch at Peñaliri. During the hike we might see burros, llamas, foxes and other local fauna. The rest of the trail winds along the edges of the crop terraces of Río Grande Village. Return to hotel by van (1 hr). Level: Moderate, daypack required. Tumbres Talabre Duration: 7 hours, walking 4 to 4.5 hours. Distance by foot: 10 km (6.2 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (1 hr). Tumbre is located below the Lascar Volcano. Cross along the base of the mountain, descending into a gully until reaching the abandoned village of Old Talabre (when available, a member of the new Talabre Village accompanies the group). We enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. Level: Moderate.

Elevations: 4,000 – 5,000 m (13,120 – 16,400 ft) These explorations can be taken from the third day.

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Copa Coya Duration: 8.5 to 9.5 hours, walking 3.5 to 4.5 hours. Distance by foot: 6.8 km (4.2 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (2 hrs) towards Tatio geothermal fields (4,320 m/ 14,180 ft). The hike follows an ancient “llaretero” road downhill, with a view of the volcanoes. Continue downhill until arriving at the bottom of the gorge. Next, trek uphill (328 m/ 1,094 ft) following an area of wind eroded rocks until arriving at several abandoned settlements. Continue along a steep ascending slope until reaching a windy saddle. Begin decent. Picnic at Tatio Geysers. Optional swim in Tatio Thermal Bath (bathing suit required; towels provided). Return to hotel by van (2 hrs). Level: Demanding, day pack required. Weather conditions may affect itinerary. *One of the required hikes in order to acclimatize before hiking volcanoes. Kulamar Duration: 8 to 9 hours, walking 3.5 to 5 hours. Distance by foot: 10 km (6.2 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (2 hrs) southeast toward the altiplano and the Salar of Atacama. The walk starts at 4,000 m (13,100 ft), going down toward one of the many salt flats of the Atliplano. We might see flamingos or other small birds in and near the lagoon. After descending 200 m (650 ft), we follow the border of the salt flat for approximately 1.5 hours. Then we ascend back to 4,200 m (13,780 ft), where the Salar de Aguas Calientes appears. Spectacular vista point. Descend to the lunch spot (we choose a place based on the climate conditions). Level: Demanding, day pack required. The terrain is not technical, but walking at altitude is demanding.

Kimal Duration: 9 to 10 hours, walking 4 to 4.5 hours. Distance by foot: 5 km (3.1 mi). Itinerary: Early departure from Hotel de Larache by van (2 hrs). This demanding hike starts at 3,600 m (11,800 ft) along an un-defined, rocky trail. We ascend for 2 to 3 hours through scree and loose rock to reach 4,280 m (14,000 ft) and an exceptional view of the Atacama Desert and the Andes Mountains from a different angle. The descent follows a similar path—again taking measures to walk carefully through the loose terrain. Level: Demanding.

scenic explorations

exploring by van combined with soft walks Elevations: 2,400 – 3,000 m (7,800 – 9,900 ft) These explorations can be taken from the first day.

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Atacama Culture Duration: 3.5 hours. Distance by van: approx. 15 km (9.5 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van to San Pedro, where we visit the main plaza, the town church, and the Padre Le Paige Museum. Next, take a van towards Pukará de Quitor, an old Atacameña fortress. There is an optional climb to the top of the fort. This exploration provides a good introduction to culture of this area. Return to hotel by van (20 min.). Level: Very easy. Salar De Atacama (Laguna Chaxa) Duration: 3.5 hours, walking 30 minutes. Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van towards the town of Toconao, located 38 km (23.5 mi) south of San Pedro de Atacama. Once in Toconao we visit the Plaza de Toconao, the Church, and the Bell Tower; all historic symbols of this town. After 25 minutes of exploring the village and browsing its local markets, we make our way towards the “Reserva Nacional los Flamencos” at Laguna Chaxa, where the Salar de Atacama is located and bird watching is amazing. Return to hotel (1 hr). Level: Easy.


explorations

Elevations: 3,000 – 4,000 m (9,800 – 13,200 ft) These explorations can be taken from the second day.

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Yerba Buena - Río Grande Duration: 4 to 4. 5 hours, walking 1 to 2 hours. Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache (45 min.) on the road to Calama, taking a detour to visit the Yerba Buena Petroglyphs. Next, we continue on until reaching the small town of Rio Grande, one of the prettiest in Atacama, where we stroll through the streets exploring the authentic place. Return by van to the hotel (1 hr). Level: Easy.

Elevations: 4,000 – 5,000 m (13,120 – 16,400 ft) These explorations can be taken from the third day.

explora atacama | desert alive

by the Quipiaco Lagoon at 4,600 m (15,100 ft) above sea level, before descending toward the Monjes de la Apacana. Drive off road across the altiplano, before reaching cathedral-like rock formations and the salt flat; habitat to atliplanic fauna and located approximately 4,200 m (13,800 ft) above sea level. We take a short walk before enjoying a picnic lunch. Return to hotel by van (2 hrs). Level: Easy. Salares Del Altiplano (South Altiplano) Duration: 7 to 8 hours, walking approx. 1 hour. Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (1 hr) toward the southern part of the altiplano, which includes the Salt Flat of the Miscanti Minique Lagoon, Aguas Calientes, and Tuyayito Lagoon, located over 3,960 m (13,200 ft) above sea level. There we take a short walk followed by a picnic lunch. During the van ride back to the hotel (1 hr) we will pass directly through the altiplano, observing flora and fauna. Level: Easy.

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Salar De Tara (Eastern Altiplano) Duration: 7 to 8 hours, walking 1 to 2 hours. Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (2 hrs) towards the eastern altiplano area, passing between Licancubur and Cerro Toco. The road hugs the Bolivian border and passes

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Ayllus Duration: 2 hours on horseback. Distance: 8 km (5 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback towards the Ayllus de Larache, Yaye, and Séquitor. Staying close to the perimeter of San Pedro, we see the Río San Pedro, where you can see diverse vegetation and local agrarian fields. Excellent introduction to riding in this area. Level: Easy. Solor Duration: 2 hours on horseback. Distance: 9 km (5.6 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback toward the east and the Ayllu of Solor—one of the most beautiful areas in this oasis due to its lush vegetation and classic adobe houses. Level: Easy.

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Tatio – Puritama (North Altiplano) Duration: 7 hours, walking approx. 1 hour at an altitude of 4,320 m (14,176 ft) through the geothermic field of the Tatio Geysers. Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache at 5:30 am by van (aprox. 2 hrs) towards the Geysers del Tatio. Explore the geothermic fields for 1 to 1.5 hours, before returning to the van to drive to the Puritama Thermal Springs (1.5 hrs at 3,500 m / 11,500 ft). Opportunity to swim in warm pools and eat a light appetizer (bathing suit required; towels provided). Return to hotel by van for lunch. Level: Easy. *We visit the geysers early when the air is colder because it is the ideal time to appreciate the thermal steam due to condensation.

Elevations: 2,400 – 3,000 m (7,800 – 9,900 ft) These explorations can be taken from the first day

horseback riding Horseback riding explorations described in the following pages have been designed for travelers with at least minimal riding experience who should feel comfortable controlling a horse in open spaces (level: easy). Some rides require more experience, such as the ability to walk, trot, and gallop along a trail for at least 3 hours (level: moderate). Experienced rides are for those who are comfortable in the saddle for more than 3 hours and able to control a horse in all gaits and situations (level: difficult). explora has the finest Chilean and English saddles, leather half chaps, and helmets. Those who do not know how to ride a horse and would like to learn, or those who have some experience but would like to improve their riding skills, can take a short 30 to 40 minute lesson.

Valle De Quitor Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours on horseback. Distance: 9 km (5.6 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback. Ride through the northern part of the oasis to a viewing place of the Pukará de Quitor, Rio San Pedro, and the surrounding farmlands. Pass the nearby Cordillera de la Sal during the return trip to hotel. Level: Easy. Valle De La Muerte Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours on horseback. Distance: 16 km (10 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback, heading northwest. We follow the road to the Death Valley and pass through a canyon of gypsum salt and clay. As we exit the canyon, we are exposed to beautiful views within Death Valley where we ride through enormous sand dunes. Return to hotel along the same roads. Level: Moderate.


explora atacama | desert alive

explorations

Dunas De La Chula Duration: 2 hours on horseback. Distance: 10 km (6 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback to Cordillera de la Sal. On the way we are surrounded by panoramic views of the ayllus, the salt lake, and the Andes Mountains. The trail follows along dunes and rock formations. Level: Moderate. Las Cornisas Duration: 3 hours on horseback. Distance: 20 km (12.5 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback towards Valle de Catarpe. We trot and gallop before climbing the cornices of Cordillera de la Sal, where we can enjoy panoramic views. We return by descending the dunes towards Valle de la Muerte. Level: Moderate. Quebrada Del Diablo Duration: 3 hours on horseback. Distance: 30 km (19 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback to Quebrada del Diablo. This is a narrow and uneven road, with ascents, descents, leaps, and curves which requires trotting and cantering. We have great views of Cordillera de los Andes, the Salar (salt flat), and the oasis during the return to the village of San Pedro. Level: Difficult. Beter / Tulor Duration: 3.5 hours on horseback. Distance: 17.8 km (11.1 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache on horseback to the southern ayllus of Tulor and Beter. We walk around the oasis and the desert, and then gallop through the dunes and nearby Beter’s ruins. Level: Moderate to difficult. Catarpe / Vilama Duration: 3 to 4 hours on horseback. Distance: 35 km (22 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache into the Valley of Quitor and Catarpe surrounded by the Cordillera de la Sal. This exploration includes a visit to the Catarpe Church and a spectacular view of the Andes Mountains. There are descents, ascents, and small river crossings. Return to hotel through the San Pedro Village on horseback. Level: Difficult.

biking explora offers the opportunity to travel along desert trails and ridges on a mountain bike. Using the equipment we provide to assure comfort and safety, biking allows our travelers to fully enjoy the geography of Atacama. We provide helmets and strongly recommend using them as an important aspect of every bicycle exploration as well as sunglasses, sunscreen, and closed-toe tennis shoes or lightweight hiking boots.

Elevations: 2,400-3,000 m (7,800-9,900 ft) These explorations can be taken from the first day

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Laguna Cejar Duration: 4 to 4.5 hours, on bicycle 1.5 to 2.5 hours. Distance: 18 km (11 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by bicycle towards the south. We cross the ayllus until we reach the entrance to the Salar de Atacama area, where we can observe vegetation specially adapted to the salty ground. The trail is flat, with some sandy areas as well as washboard areas dusted with chusca (powdery soil). Finally we reach a set of lakes where the Cejar Lagoon is located, and we have the opportunity to float in its salty water (bathing suit and flip-flops required; towels provided). Return to hotel by van (45 min.). Level: Easy, with some soft sandy sections.

These explorations can be taken from the second day.

Moon Valley Circuit Duration: 3 to 4 hours (half-day), on bicycle 2 to 3 hours. Distance: 23 km (14 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van along the road that connects San Pedro to Calama (20 min.). We start from the Llano de Paciencia toward the Moon Valley on packed gravel roads. The scenery is mesmerizing and the terrain is not technical, although there are several climbs and descents. Level: Moderate. Piedra de la Coca Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours on bicycle. Distance: 18 km (11 mi). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by bicycle towards the Catarpe Valley. We take a detour on an old dirt road that goes up toward the Salt Range. We pedal through a historic tunnel before starting a zigzagging decent through dry river beds, which eventually leads us to Piedra de la Coca—an area with petroglyphs. We continue down through the Llano de Paciencia riding along more dried river beds and stony off-road terrain. The exploration ends when we meet the van waiting for us on the road to San Pedro. Return to hotel by van (20 min.). Level: Moderate. Long option: Instead of ending the ride and returning to San Pedro in the van, add on the Moon Valley Circuit option for an additional 20 km (12.4 mi) of bike ride. Expect several climbs and descents. Only recommended for riders with experience and in good condition. Level: Moderate to demanding.


explora atacama | desert alive

explorations

This exploration can be taken from the fourth day. h a l f d ay

high mountain climbing Elevation: 5,000 - 6,000 m / 16,400 - 19,680 ft These explorations can be done after completing previous acclimations, which include 1 full day above 4,000 m (13,100 ft) and 3 nights in the hotel. For those interested in high mountain climbing, you should discuss the details with one of our guides on the first day. Climbing highaltitude mountains and volcanoes is extremely demanding. These explorations are suitable only for travelers who are in good physical shape and respond well to acclimatization. Travelers who have trouble with heights or heart conditions cannot participate. In some areas there are trails, although they are generally ascended through rocky terrain and steep slopes. There is always a chance of ice or snow. Climbing these mountains allows travelers to live the unique experience of being at high altitude; there are very few places in the world that allow you to access and climb above 5,000 m / 16,400 ft. It’s an experience of a lifetime! One can expect outstanding views with an amazing blue sky (generally), but the conditions change very quickly. Competition is not the goal (neither competing against oneself nor against others). Weather The recommended season and the most stable weather for these climbs is between April and mid-December. During these months the temperatures are extremely cold (as cold as or colder than -25˚C/ -13˚F especially during June through August). From mid to late December until the end of March is the altiplanic rainy season (also know as the Altiplanic Winter). During this season the weather is less stable, and strong weather and electric storms can quickly surround the mountains. Temperatures are much warmer and can be extremely high during some parts of the day. There is always a chance of exploration cancellation due to changing weather. Equipment All travelers must supply their own technical clothing and appropriate layers for warmth for these climbs.

Cerro Toco (5,604 M / 18,381 Ft) Duration: 5 to 6 hours, approx. 2.5 hours trekking on the mountain (assuming normal conditions and no snow). Change in Elevation: Approx. 300 m (1,000 ft). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (1.5 hrs). We begin the ascent at an old sulfur plant and ACT (Atacama Cosmology Telescope) at 5,300 m (17,380 ft). We climb along a steep, but wellmarked path for 1 to 2 hours. Toco is an ideal introduction to high mountain climbing and offers panoramic views of Chile, Bolivia, and the surrounding volcanoes. Level: Moderate.

Volcán Sairecabur (6,010 M / 19,712 Ft) Duration: 10 to 11 hours. Change in Elevation: Approx. 500 m (2,130 ft). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van heading north towards Azufrera Sasiel, where we will tour an old mine. Our drive continues, as we curve our way up to the Sairecabur Caldera—part of the Sairecabur Volcano Complex. Here we begin our ascent across loose rocks, stones, and boulders. We cross through an old, abandoned sulfur mine, before the final steep ascent across rocks and boulders. The summit is the highest dome of Sairecabur. Level: Demanding.

These explorations can be taken from the sixth day. 2 f u l l d ay s

These explorations can be taken from the fifth day. f u l l d ay

Volcán Saciel (5,674 M / 18,600 Ft) Duration: 7 to 8.5 hours. Itinerary: Depart from Hotel de Larache by van (2 hrs) to arrive at a sulfur mine located between Bolivia and Chile and on the folds of the Sairecabur Volcano (5,300 m / 17,400 ft). Begin ascent on a steep, unmarked rocky trail. One will find much more wind on this ascent compared to the Cerro Toco. After 2 hours trekking arrive at the edge of the Saciel Crater and the summit with a spectacular view of inside the crater. Depending on the wind conditions, we decide where to safely descend. Return to the van and back to the hotel (2 hrs). Level: Moderate to demanding. Cerro Corona (5,291 M / 17,359 Ft) Duration: 9 to 10 hours. Change in Elevation: 738 m (2,460 ft). Itinerary: Departure from Hotel de Larache by van (2 hrs) towards Talabre. The ascent begins by trekking across volcanic rocks and boulders, lasting between 2.5 to 4 hours depending on snow conditions. On the summit, we enjoy amazing views of the entire volcanic arc of the Andes, including Lascar Volcano. We descend through numerous volcanic rock fields for 2 to 2.5 hours. We have lunch in the altiplano. Level: Moderate to demanding.

Volcán Licancabur (5,916 M / 19,404 Ft) The following exploration, Volcano Licancabur, requires confirmation 60 days prior to arrival at explora. This exploration requires a visa to enter Bolivia. We spend a night in high altitude, camping at 4,600 m (15,000 ft). We are accompanied by a local Bolivian mountain guide. Tent, sleeping bag, mattress, and food are provided. Travelers must provide their own appropriate clothing and mountain hiking boots (ask for pack list). Duration: 2 full days. Change in Elevation: Approx. 1,329 m (4,430 ft). Itinerary: Departure from explora’s Hotel de Larache by van, crossing the Bolivian border. Base campsite is located at 4,600 m (15,000 ft) above sea level. Time permitting; there is an optional walk to the Laguna Verde or Blanco. We go to sleep early because we will wake up at 3:30 am for an early morning ascent. We will use flashlights to make our way along a well-marked trail, after eating a light snack. Half-way up the volcano, we watch the sunrise over the Laguna Blanca and Laguna Verde. We reach the summit after 5.5 to 8 hours, rewarded by a view of the crater and the world’s highest lagoon. Climbing down can be difficult due to the steepness of the descent, taking at least 3 to 4 hours. Along the way, we can explore the Inca ruins that we passed earlier in the dark. From there we return to base camp (1 hr) and then to explora Atacama (1.5 hrs) just in time for a hot shower and well deserved dinner. Level: Demanding. Acclimatization: Starting from day 6 and with at least 2 full day hikes above 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) completed.


Atacama Explorations